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Understanding Cross-Fading: Risks of Mixing Alcohol and Marijuana

under the influence

Clinically Reviewed by: Charee Marquez, LMFT

What is Getting Cross-Faded?

In the realm of substance use, cross-fading—combining too much alcohol with smoking marijuana simultaneously—has become a popular yet risky trend among young adults. This practice involves drinking alcohol and using marijuana at the same time, creating overlapping drug effects that can significantly elevate the impact on the central nervous system. While some marijuana users and those who drink alcohol might seek a cross-faded high for enhanced euphoria, the combination poses specific risk factors and significant risks. The central nervous system depressant effects of alcohol, combined with the influence of THC on the brain’s cannabinoid receptors, can lead to negative consequences such as extreme panic, impaired coordination, and increased likelihood of alcohol and drug abuse. Understanding these dangers is crucial for promoting safer behaviors and addressing the broader issue of substance use disorder among young adults.

What is Getting Cross-Faded?

Getting cross-faded refers to the state of being simultaneously under the influence of both alcohol and cannabis (marijuana). The term “cross-faded” describes the combination of the effects of these two substances, which can lead to enhanced feelings of euphoria, but also an increased risk of negative side effects such as dizziness, nausea, anxiety, and impaired coordination. The use of multiple substances, such as alcohol and marijuana, can amplify these effects and risks.

People may experience cross-fading differently based on factors like their tolerance to each substance, the amounts consumed, and their individual physical and mental state. Due to the unpredictable nature of combining these substances, it is generally advised to be cautious and aware of the potential risks.


What are the Effects of Being Cross-Faded?

The effects of being cross-faded include:

  1. Enhanced Euphoria: Intensified feelings of euphoria from both substances.
  2. Impaired Coordination: Difficulty with motor skills and balance, increasing accident risk.
  3. Cognitive Impairment: Reduced ability to think clearly, make decisions, and remember things.
  4. Nausea and Vomiting: Higher likelihood of experiencing severe nausea and vomiting.
  5. Anxiety and Paranoia: Increased chances of heightened anxiety, paranoia, and panic attacks.
  6. Increased Heart Rate: Elevated heart rate, which can be risky for those with heart conditions.
  7. Extreme Drowsiness: Enhanced sedative effects, leading to extreme drowsiness or falling asleep.


What are the Potential Risks of Being Cross-Faded?

The potential risks of being cross-faded, or under the influence of both alcohol and cannabis simultaneously, can be significant and multifaceted. Here are some of the key risks:

Long-term effects of cross-fading include the increased chances of developing dependency, leading to drug misuse, alcohol abuse, and drug addiction.


Physical Health Risks

  1. Severe Nausea and Vomiting: When you mix alcohol and marijuana, the combination can exacerbate nausea, leading to vomiting, which can cause dehydration and electrolyte imbalances.
  2. Increased Heart Rate: Both substances can increase heart rate, posing risks for those with heart conditions.
  3. Coordination and Motor Skills Impairment: Impaired coordination and motor skills increase the risk of accidents and injuries, including falls and car accidents.
  4. Alcohol Poisoning: Cannabis can sometimes mask the symptoms of alcohol intoxication, leading to overconsumption and alcohol poisoning, which is life-threatening.

Mental Health Risks

  1. Anxiety and Paranoia: Cannabis can heighten anxiety and paranoia, which can be intensified when combined with alcohol. Consuming too much weed, also known as ‘greening out’, can lead to extreme panic, vomiting, headaches, and disorientation.
  2. Panic Attacks: The combined effects can trigger panic attacks, especially in those prone to anxiety.
  3. Cognitive Impairment: Short-term memory and cognitive functions can be significantly impaired, affecting judgment and decision-making.

Behavioral Risks

  1. Risky Behavior: Impaired judgment and inhibition can lead to risky behaviors, such as unsafe sex or driving under the influence.
  2. Aggression and Violence: Alcohol, in particular, can increase aggression, which might be exacerbated when combined with cannabis.

Social and Legal Risks

  1. Legal Issues: Being under the influence of both substances can lead to legal problems, including DUIs and other substance-related offenses.
  2. Relationship Strain: Substance abuse can strain personal and professional relationships, leading to conflicts and social isolation.

Long-Term Risks

  1. Addiction and Dependence: Habitual use of both substances can lead to dependence and addiction, making it difficult to quit or reduce use.
  2. Chronic Health Problems: Long-term use can result in chronic health issues, such as liver disease (from alcohol) and respiratory problems (from smoking cannabis).


  1. Moderation and Awareness: Be aware of the potential effects and practice moderation.
  2. Safe Environment: Ensure you are in a safe environment with people you trust.
  3. Know Your Limits: Understand how each substance affects you individually and in combination.
  4. Seek Help: If you experience severe adverse effects or struggle with substance use, seek medical or professional help.

Being aware of these risks can help individuals make more informed decisions and take precautions to minimize potential harm.


Why Do People Mix Different Substances?

  • People mix different substances to achieve a more intense or balanced high than they would from using a single substance alone. This practice, often driven by curiosity and the desire to enhance euphoria, involves combining substances like alcohol and marijuana to amplify their effects. Social influence and peer pressure also play significant roles, especially among young adults experimenting with different sensations.
  • Additionally, some individuals mix substances to prolong the duration of their high or to manage the side effects of one drug with another. For example, cannabis might be used to counteract the stimulating effects of cocaine or the nausea from alcohol. However, mixing substances carries significant risks, including increased chances of overdose, impaired judgment, and the development of addictive behaviors.


Commonly Used Drugs to Get Cross-Faded

Commonly used drugs typically include:

  1. Alcohol and Cannabis: The most common combination for cross-fading, mixing alcohol with marijuana to enhance the effects of both.
  2. Alcohol and Prescription Drugs: Combining alcohol with prescription medications like benzodiazepines (e.g., Xanax, Valium) or opioids (e.g., Vicodin, OxyContin) for intensified relaxation or euphoria.
  3. Alcohol and Stimulants: Mixing alcohol with stimulants like cocaine, MDMA (ecstasy), or amphetamines to balance the sedative effects of alcohol with the stimulating effects of the other drugs.
  4. Cannabis and Psychedelics: Combining cannabis with psychedelics like LSD or psilocybin mushrooms to enhance the psychedelic experience.
  5. Cannabis and Prescription Drugs: Using cannabis along with prescription medications, particularly those with sedative effects.

These combinations are popular among individuals seeking to amplify or balance the effects of each substance, but they also come with increased risks and potential for adverse reactions.


The Danger of Mixing Alcohol and Marijuana

Mixing alcohol and marijuana, commonly known as getting cross-faded, can pose several dangers:

  1. Increased Intoxication: Enhanced effects of both substances can lead to extreme intoxication, making it difficult to control motor skills and cognitive functions.
  2. Severe Nausea and Vomiting: The combination can significantly increase nausea and the likelihood of vomiting, which can lead to dehydration.
  3. Impaired Judgment and Coordination: Greatly reduced ability to make sound decisions and maintain coordination, increasing the risk of accidents and injuries.
  4. Enhanced Anxiety and Paranoia: Higher likelihood of experiencing anxiety, panic attacks, and paranoia, especially in individuals prone to these reactions.
  5. Risk of Overconsumption: Marijuana can mask the effects of alcohol, leading to excessive drinking and a higher risk of alcohol poisoning.


How Does Being Cross-Faded Affect the Brain and Body?

Being cross-faded affects the brain and body in several ways:


  1. Impaired Cognitive Function: Difficulty thinking clearly, making decisions, and remembering things.
  2. Altered Perception: Distorted sense of time, space, and reality.
  3. Enhanced Anxiety: Increased risk of anxiety, paranoia, and panic attacks.


  1. Impaired Coordination: Difficulty with motor skills, balance, and coordination.
  2. Increased Heart Rate: Elevated heart rate, which can be uncomfortable or risky for those with heart conditions.
  3. Nausea and Vomiting: Higher likelihood of experiencing nausea and vomiting, leading to dehydration.


How Long Does Being Cross-Faded Last?

The duration of being cross-faded can vary, but typically it lasts:


  1. Initial Effects: 1-4 hours for the peak effects.
  2. Residual Effects: Up to 6-8 hours, with lingering drowsiness or lethargy.

Factors Influencing Duration

  • Amount Consumed: Higher quantities can prolong the effects.
  • Individual Tolerance: Personal tolerance to alcohol and cannabis.
  • Method of Consumption: Smoking cannabis vs. edibles, and type of alcohol consumed.

Overall, the combined effects usually subside within a few hours, but some residual effects may last longer.


Is Being Crossfaded Addictive?

Being crossfaded itself is not a specific addiction, but it can contribute to addiction issues:

  1. Increased Risk of Dependence: Regularly using alcohol and cannabis together can lead to dependence on one or both substances.
  2. Tolerance Development: Frequent use can increase tolerance, leading to the need for higher doses to achieve the same effects.
  3. Behavioral Patterns: The habit of combining substances can become a compulsive behavior, contributing to substance use disorders.

While the state of being crossfaded is not inherently addictive, the substances involved can lead to addiction.


Can Cross-Fading Lead to Overdose?

Yes, cross-fading can lead to overdose:

  1. Alcohol Poisoning: Marijuana can mask the effects of alcohol, leading to excessive drinking and potential alcohol poisoning.
  2. Severe Intoxication: The combined effects can cause extreme drowsiness, loss of consciousness, or respiratory depression.
  3. Increased Risk of Accidents: Impaired judgment and coordination can result in accidents and injuries, potentially leading to life-threatening situations.

While marijuana overdose is rare, the combined use with alcohol significantly increases the risk of serious and potentially fatal consequences.


Mixing alcohol and marijuana simultaneously, or getting cross-faded, may seem appealing to some for its intensified effects, but it comes with significant risks and potential for harm. Young adults engaging in binge drinking or frequent marijuana use are particularly vulnerable to the negative consequences of cross-fading. The combined effects on the cardiovascular system, increased THC levels, and impaired judgment can lead to accidents, addiction, and severe health issues. Awareness and education about the dangers of mixing these substances, as well as the availability of treatment options for alcohol use disorder and marijuana addiction, are essential for preventing substance abuse and promoting healthier lifestyles. By understanding the addictive behaviors associated with cross-fading and the specific risks it entails, individuals can make informed decisions and avoid the pitfalls of simultaneous alcohol and marijuana use.


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If you or a loved one are struggling with mental health challenges or substance abuse, reach out to California Prime Recovery today. Our team of compassionate professionals is here to support your journey towards lasting well-being. Give us a call at 866-208-2390

Also, check out our blogs posted weekly on Medium.


Cross-fading is the state of being under the influence of both alcohol and marijuana simultaneously, leading to combined and often intensified effects of both substances.
People cross-fade to enhance the euphoria and overall high, seeking a more intense experience than using either substance alone. Curiosity, social influence, and experimentation are common motivations.
Short-term effects include impaired coordination, dizziness, severe nausea, heightened anxiety, paranoia, and significantly impaired judgment and cognitive function.
Yes, cross-fading can lead to overdose, particularly from alcohol. Marijuana can mask the effects of alcohol, leading to excessive drinking and potential alcohol poisoning, along with severe intoxication.
Long-term risks include increased likelihood of developing substance use disorders, cognitive impairment, chronic health issues, mental health problems, and social and legal consequences.

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